I Ride Therefore I Am. Maybe.

I Ride Therefore I Am. Maybe.

Do you ever feel like maybe it’s just time to shut the lights off, turn the lock and close the door on an old version of yourself? Right now it feels like I am straddling between two me’s. Cantankerous, vision gone murky – I’m like snake about to shed it’s skin, striking at everything.

Lately it feels like I’m being confronted by an unfamiliar version of myself. I’ve been avoiding things I’ve always taken great pleasure in – like riding my motorcycle, taking photos and blogging about it. And instead I have been slipping into trying things I’ve never done before. Boring, mundane, yet oddly satisfying things.

If I don’t ride my motorcycle on Sunday, and choose to stay home pulling weeds, what does that say about me? Does it mean that I’m no longer passionate about riding? Does it mean that a part of my identity that I’ve held dear for so long no longer exists? Or does it mean that I am willing to accept that I am not a robot that follows a set routine? Or that maybe I simply need a break to recharge because I’ve got too many tabs open on my mental browser? Does it say nothing of any consequence at all?

Why do we sometimes decide to put ourselves in a box and stay there for so long?

Why do I try to convince myself that I can only be what I’ve always been? Even though intellectually, I know I haven’t always been just one thing. At any given moment I could be different than I was just a moment before as a result of just thinking.

Being obsessive is a tightrope. It can be wonderful or terrible depending on what gets my focus. When it is a positive avenue, I am able to do things I am proud of. Perhaps something like a sport or a creative outlet; something that I can share that benefits others. Conversely when it is something negative, I might burn everything to the ground in a fit of destruction.

My pendulum swings wide, rarely resting in the middle. Black. White. Love. Hate. In. Out. All. None.

Self-applied pressure often paralyzes me. For example, I like writing. On the whole, it makes me feel good about myself and provides relief. Being able to communicate through this medium feels safe and my anxieties about my physical person don’t cripple me.

The positive feeling I get from writing will make me chase after that dopamine hit. It’ll make me want more. And more, and more, and more, and more until I become consumed by needing to do this thing because it makes up a part of my identity and it feels good and who doesn’t want to feel good and if I don’t do this thing than who am I even, and what the hell else am I any good at anyway, or why else would anyone pay attention to me and what’s the point of anything?!

So, what was done solely for pleasure begins to turn into something else. Something negative.

As soon as I turn writing into a job for myself I begin to shut down. When I start applying rules and schedules and assumptions and expectations, I no longer like to write. And then, I start to obsess about not being able to write and I become catatonic and start a cycle of isolation. My creativity takes a leave of absence. My sparkle fades. I become a ghost.

Well-meaning people will offer ideas like “how about you just write something once a week?” And while I understand the sentiment and appreciate people trying to help, it fails to recognize a fundamental aspect of my personality that will never be fixed until I successfully rewire my own brain.

If I don’t ride my motorcycle, don’t take pictures and don’t write about either of those things… who am I? Maybe I don’t really have to worry myself about any of it. Everything’s going to be okay.

10 Replies to “I Ride Therefore I Am. Maybe.”

  1. Being obsessive is a tightrope, yes, well I don’t know nothin bout that. I had a friend in Ridge that kept up his Sportster like it was worth a million dollars but never rode it. I asked him why once and he said something like “the leathers, googles, the whole image thing is a hassle.” So he spent every all his free time putzing around his yard.

    Maybe just ask yourself why you don’t feel like riding until you get what feels like the truth and take it from there. Until you become a Motaur a motorcycle is not who you are.

    Take care of yourself Rachael.

  2. Welcome to the little box with big windows I like to call “Normal”. Have a seat, you’re going to be here a while. There are outdated magazines on the coffee table, here’s the remote, the kitchen is right there so make yourself a cup of whatever and oh, we have cookies.

  3. Yours was a difficult post to read because it reminded me too much of – me. Having ridden for 45 years, I find that now in retirement – I don’t always want to. What??? Retired with time and NOW you don’t want to??

    Yesterday was hot and humid but sunny. I weeded out a bed of plants while the motorcycle sat under her cover. The only constant in life is change. I want to write about how it feels to be retired but I’ve not put the first word down.

    Maybe the secret is just to go with what is on any given day. Don’t look for meaning and question everything. Some days, it is simply – what it is.

    Take care!

  4. Fuzzy, in the end, life is about people, and relationships. It always has been. You have built virtual relationships with all of us who have followed you for years. Thanks. Now sit back a while and enjoy more personal relationships – with your remote. And a pet. Or call your sister! Who knows? I’ve ridden more than 150,000 miles in the last eight years and even I know the motorcycle is just a metaphor. It is something you’ve done, but it will never be who you are. You are simply – who you are. Enjoy it. Let us show YOU some of the moments we ride for, and you can sit back and relax for a bit.

    Four years ago I rode 300 miles just to ride the Blue Ridge in spring. As you know, the ridge is dicey in spring. Weather at the top is often quite different than weather at the bottom. I was above 6,000 feet on a spring morning, and the air was chilled. I was the only person there, on my Ultra Limited. You could smell the spring in the air. I turned off the bike, and could actually hear the water dripped off the stone of the mountain, slowly dripping down. Below me, clouds flowed through the sky, a living, floating ocean of water in the air, which was so apparent as the only thing I could see was the other mountain peaks and the flow of the clouds, breaking slowly around the peaks miles away. As I started the bike and came down the mountain, I came closer and closer to the clouds, until their tops were swirling around my feet. Then my knees, then I was in the clouds, and visibility dropped to a feet feet, which actually was a bit scary when going through the tunnels bored in the mountain. The temperature dropped 20 degrees in the cold of the clouds. It then got gradually lighter and lighter until the bottom of the bike broke out of the clouds, then my knees, and finally my head, as the clouds swirled just above me. Then I stopped the bike again. A couple of thousand feet below me, I could see a tiny town in the center of a valley, looking like a snow globe town. Just inches above my head, the clouds flowed over me, breaking around the mountain. I reached up into the clouds, and felt the cold of the water swirled around my hand. And looked down at the valley, so far below me. I slowly started the bike back up, and cruised down the mountain. That day I heard the mountain – and touched the sky. And that’s why I ride.

    There. See? Now you’ve gone on an adventure, and never had to leave the couch. Take care, and never be afraid to just be you.

  5. There are those who don’t believe they can to anything and therefore cling to one thing they find and do it the rest of their lives. They are happy they found it and cling to it and get good at it.

    Then there are those who believe they can do anything and spend a lifetime trying whatever they want. They get good and move on or jump around. Always worried about not being good enough.

    It’s a catch-22 of the gifted. Being anole to do anything and not being able to settle on one thing. Never knowing what you want to be when you grow up. When it’s not about being good enough. It’s about being good for now. It’s is about finding nothing challenging and everything challenging at the same time.

    Stay thirsty my friend!

  6. Sounds to me like its time to visit your favorite cafe, belly up to the bar, order a doughnut and do some eavesdroping. Just saying….

  7. I was going to say that the behavior you describe is simply human, but maybe I’m wrong. It’s behavior that I engage in, so maybe it’s you, me and a few others who think and act this way, not everyone.

    Regardless of its prevalence, I get your point. I have the same tendency to do something novel, enjoy it immensely and then get compulsive until the activity no longer satisfies me. A smart move is to then shift to other things rather than stay in a rut we carved. Even the most positive activities (e.g., riding, writing) can become unsatisfying if done to excess or for the wrong reasons.

    I recently had the same feeling about dressing up in women’s clothing. That stopped being fun; it stopped fulfilling me; it turned into a joyless chore. So I stopped making the effort. A few months went by and now I’m feeling a tingling desire to do it again, arising out of no where. I mention this not to be self-centered but to illustrate that maybe we don’t consciously control our desires; maybe they just roil around in the cauldron of our minds. Perhaps it’s better to follow what our desires say than stick to some arbitrary schedule or script written by our conscious mind. Since the ultimate goal is happiness, let’s listen to our inner selves instead of our conscious minds which may be warped by psychological influences. Anyway, that’s my response. Feel free to ignore it if it doesn’t help.

  8. Fuzzy;
    Fascinating post. I can relate. Also, those who commented made this particular topic all the more worthwhile. Thank you.

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